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The Tales of Cassie Del Valle
My random blabberings, thoughts and stories. Enjoy~
Life of a Percussionist
Last year, as a high school freshman, I joined my school band as a percussionist. I had not known much about music before last year. Just looking at a simple piece of music intimidated me.
I got through the year, with all the struggles that came with being a percussionist. Not only having to learn how to read notes to play on mallet instruments, but also learning how to keep beats to play on the drum set.
I eventually, towards the end of the year, got a professional drum instructor to boost my playing on the drum set. That was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Since I was able to incorporate the wrist techniques that Dylan, my drum instructor, was teaching me on the mallets, my playing on that instrument became far better than it was before.
Towards the end of the year, before or after my Spring concert I don't remember, I was asked by my band director, Mr. Bradley O'Brien, to join the Advanced Honors Symphonic Band.
I was stunned. I became almost speechless when he asked, because, I had never thought I had even the slightest potential to be offered a spot. This band required an audition and a one page paper to be accepted into and I was just given it. The reason being, there would've only been 3 percussion members left in Symphonic if he hadn't accepted me and 4 others into the band.
It took me a couple days to decide, talk it over with a few people, and convince myself that I could do it. When I made up my mind, I accepted the opportunity.
After I was sent the music in my email by my band director, I felt overwhelmed. There was so much stuff I didn't know. I remember specifically asking myself: "How the hell do you play in a 6/8 measure?"
I printed all the music out, set it up in my binder, and didn't look at it all summer.
When school started, the music did as well, almost immediately.
At this point, I couldn't be more glad I had Ethan, my section leader. To me, he was almost like a musical genius, who literally knew the answers to all my questions.
If it wasn't for him, I seriously wouldn't be as far into my music as I am. He's taught me so much in just the short time that we've known each other. He really deserves many thanks from me, I couldn't appreciate him more.
We have these things called sectionals, where each section practices with their sectional leader one day after school. Those have certainly helped. We've all laughed, fought, and for the most part, actually practiced.
I've made good friends with this girl, Karina. She was one of those "3 percussionists" I mentioned earlier. So, she was already more advanced than me. We get along really well and she helps me a lot with my music.
All this practicing was for our December concert, which snuck up on me really fast. Oh hell, I was nervous. It was my first concert in Symphonic and I really felt the pressure. I only played one song, but the beginning of the song was a really important part, and I played in it.
So, Thursday night, December 6, 2012, was the night of the concert.
I was nervous as ********.
Symphonic always plays last, so, I had to sit through Varsity, Jazz, and Concert band before I played.
When I got up there, I didn't really feel nervous, mainly because the lights were so bright I couldn't see the audience.
Then, the lights turned off, and I was in the dark. My band director decided it would be awesome if the first 10 measures of the song was played in the dark. It was awesome, but not at the time.
Luckily, my eyes adjusted real quick to the dark, and I was able to see, for the most part, the shape of the keys I was supposed to be hitting.
Then, Mr. O'Brien set the tempo, gave us one measure, then the music started. I counted my 4 measures of rest, then started. I played the same notes for 6 measures, and at the end of my 6 measures, I really felt I ******** up and everyone noticed. The song continued, I counted my measures, and played the rest of my notes on time.
After the song, I turned around to Ethan, who was on the drum set, and said "I'm sorry."
I, for some reason, thought he'd be upset at me for screwing up. I'm not sure why, he's not that type.
He said I did great, though I didn't feel I did.
I walked over to the corner I was supposed to stand in until the songs were over. After the next song was over, Ethan got off the set and came over to me and said "There's no good or bad." And went to go play his next part.
He didn't say much, but it sure made me feel a lot better.
For the next couple of songs, I stayed and talked with my percussionists who weren't playing, as well as Ethan, who kept making me laugh. I really felt a lot better by the time the show ended.
When the end of the show was announced and the stage lights went off, relief had flooded over me. It was done! I did it! I played my first ever concert in Symphonic Band and I felt great.
After leaving the stage, I was in a crowd of people, and holy s**t did I have to pee. After taking care of that, I walked through the crowd looking for my mom and aunt. O'Brien had seen me and said: "Great job."
I asked, "Great job?"
He said, "Yeah! You did great."
I smiled.
Finally, I had found my mom and aunt, and they congratulated me, as well, saying they didn't hear this mistake that I was talking about.
We all walked over to Mr. O'Brien and I finally got a picture with him, which I'm happy about.
My aunt had mentioned to Mr. O'Brien that I didn't believe them when they said I did good. He asked me why.
I told him: "Because I messed up the beginning of Miss Saigon."
And, him, being the wonderful fatherly type man that he is, says: "Sweetie, even I screw up. I didn't even hear a mistake. You did great tonight."
I smiled and thanked him.
After, I heard so many people going up to him and complimenting Miss Saigon, the song I played. That also made me feel a whole lot better.
Then, at home, I listened to the recording of me playing, and I couldn't even hear the mistake that I thought was so profound. That's when I felt proud of myself, that I got up there and I played music that people loved.
Yesterday, or Friday, the day after the concert, December 7th, during my band period, Mr. O'Brien told us all of the compliments from Miss Saigon. Told us that we did amazing and how great we sounded. I felt a pride that I've never felt before. I felt amazing. That I, Cassie, actually played in something that people loved and complimented. That I was apart of something big.
I'm the kind of person that never feels like they belong. I always feel like the outcast in any crowd.
It's not like that in band. I feel like I belong there. That everyone there is my family, especially my fellow percussionists. We all share the same passion. We all want to strive to be a great player. We're all united by one absolutely amazing director.
And we all love what we do.

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